Amid Classroom Shortage
By Ndey Sowe & Amadou Majang
Students having lectures under a neem tree
Amid classroom shortage at the University of The Gambia (UTG) Brikama campus, lecturers and students had resorted to having lectures under a neem tree.
Several lectures were held in the open and under trees due to a shortage of classrooms following the commencement of the Gambia College examination.
Since the Gambia College started exams on April 11, 2022, UTG faced a shortage of classrooms in Brikama Campus at the School of Arts and Sciences.
UTG students are barred from entering the Bajonkoto and or MRC Holland classrooms building by the authority of the Gambia College. UTG lectures are often conducted in Bajonkoto and or MRC Holland classrooms.
Siman Lowe, a political science student at the UTG, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation, saying students are exposed to unfair, unjust and abysmal disregard by stakeholders responsible for the welfare of the students.
“It has become a custom in the annals of the history of the University of The Gambia most particularly Brikama campus, that students are exposed to unfair, unjust and abysmal disregard by stakeholders responsible for the welfare of the students. This disregard, recognizing its multifaceted dimension, is marred by inadequate classrooms owned and under the disposal of UTG students for adequate use and other confronting challenges,” he lamented to Foroyaa on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 in an interview.
On Tuesday, many UTG classes and lectures were either cancelled or held in the open under the shade of a tree. The issue has raised frustration among the students who complained about the shortage of classrooms and having to sit outside to attend lectures.
Many students lament that they have to roam the campus in search of empty classes to conduct their lectures because the Gambia College is on exams.
Lowe affirmed that on 19th April 2022, students in Brikama who had been housed in some Gambia College classrooms to attend lectures were denied access to holding lectures in the Gambia College premises by the College Management as a result of ongoing college examinations.
He said while students in Brikama have paid a huge sum of money to cater for their tuition fees, their plight and sufferings have gone beyond measures.
He said the new UTG management has been collaborative with the UTG Students’ Union to find solutions to these avoidable challenges. However, he said temporal consensual arrangements with Gambia College management for arranged classes to be used by the university is not a solution as adequately seen in this week’s ordeals.
“The interest of students must not be sacrificed on grounds of inadequate classrooms at the University of The Gambia,” he lamented.
Mr. Lowe urged the Government of The Gambia under the stewardship of President Adama Barrow, the Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology, Members of the National Assembly and all relevant stakeholders, to give due attention to the needs of the poor students who have struggled to pay their tuition fees in order to be accorded quality education. He said it is quite archaic and exasperating to see students and lecturers conduct lectures under the shade of a tree.
“It is high time that the relevant stakeholders take it as first priority above all other engagements, and provide a University ground where students will live to forget these circumstances. Enough of the sacrifices of students’ welfare and enough of the abysmal disregard for quality and students’ interest! For far too long students have accepted the pain and stakeholders should proffer solutions,” he said, and several students expressed similar remarks.
Meanwhile, UTGSU assured students that they took the matter with compelling concern in a dispatch issued on Tuesday.
The Union’s dispatch added that they have reached a possible solution for more classroom space and normal lectures will resume shortly.
The UTGSU stated that 6 classes in Bajonkoto that are not used by the Gambia College at the moment, are allocated for the UTG, adding that the UTG management has provided 360 chairs for students at those classrooms.
UTGSU urged students to remain calm and resolute as they make efforts to mitigate the classroom and chairs crisis.
It could be recalled that on 17th September 2021, students of the University staged a protest dubbed “paddling our own canoe”, in a quest to bring stakeholders on board to create a university that is fit for its purpose.
Unfortunately, whilst some of the demands made in that protest were met, students are still confronted with a pile of challenges.